The IDF on Sunday deployed the first battery of the Iron Dome missile defense system near Beersheba, southern Israel's largest city. It is estimated that the battery will be fully operational in the afternoon.
During the preparations for the deployment of the system, which uses cameras and radar to track incoming rockets and is supposed to shoot them down within seconds of their launch, Israel conducted a test during which rockets resembling Grads were intercepted.
The security establishment said it would take some time before the system becomes fully integrated in the army's routine activity.
"Israel has been under the threat of rockets for the past 20 years – since the Gulf War," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting. "I don’t want to create the illusion that the Iron Dome system will provide a comprehensive solution."
Netanyahu noted that "The Iron Dome is still being tested, and in any case we cannot deploy batteries in such a way that they would protect every home, school, base and facility.
"The true answer to the threat is a combination of offensive and deterrence measures with defense measures," and stressed that Israel "holds Hamas responsible for everything fired from the Gaza Strip," the PM said.
Iron Dome Battery outside Beersheba (Photo: Herzl Yosef)
Earlier Sunday, the Air Force attacked terrorists who were planning to fire rockets at Israel. At least two Islamic Jihad members were killed in the strike.
During a tour of Israeli communities located near Gaza on Friday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he approved the deployment of Iron Dome's first operational battery in the south and lauded its capabilities, while making note of its limitations.
"We must understand that alongside the fact that this is an exceptional achievement by our defense industries, unprecedented anywhere else, it ultimately does not provide 100% coverage," he said.
"This is the first battery, and every additional battery that we get will join this system," he said. "However, the full deployment would take several years and involve significant budgets."
Attila Somfalvi contributed to the report
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